The Future of Welsh Literature
Susan Karen Burton has won the 2020 New Welsh Writing Awards: Rheidol Prize for Prose with a Welsh Theme or Setting with an excerpt from her biographical non-fiction manuscript, The Transplantable Roots of Catharine Huws Nagashima.
The piece, which describes a meeting with a Welsh migrant to Japan, is a “work in progress tentatively entitled Hiraeth in Japan”, which “tells the life stories of several Welsh settlers in the archipelago from the nineteenth century to the present day.” It also, apparently, “examines the influence of Welsh culture on the Japanese nation, from a growing Japanese fanbase for the Welsh rugby team to the efforts of one enthusiastic Japanese professor to teach the Welsh language to a class of Tokyo undergraduates.”
Norwich based Burton – an oral historian and non-fiction writer who spent over a decade in Japan collecting the life stories of British migrants – wins a cheque for £1,000 as an advance against e-publication by the New Welsh Rarebyte imprint next year, a positive critique by leading literary agent Cathryn Summerhayes of Curtis Brown and a year-long subscription to New Welsh Review.
RHEIDOL PRIZE FOR PROSE WITH A WELSH THEME OR SETTING WINNERS
FIRST PLACE: Susan Karen Burton (Norwich, England) – The Transplantable Roots of Catharine Huws Nagashima
SECOND PLACE: Jonathan Edwards (Crosskeys, Wales) – Some News from the Teaching Profession
THIRD PLACE: Ruby D. Jones (Cardiff, Wales) – An Anatomy of Shame
Judge and New Welsh Review editor Gwen Davies commented:
“This is absolutely beautiful writing. Its subject – Catharine, the daughter of Welsh architect Richard Huws and artist and poet Edrica – is presented as being utterly at one with her surroundings, as is the author in her Japanese setting. So superb is this essay’s visualisation of physical space and loving detail lavished on objects and the places we call home that I assumed she must be a professional writer on architecture.
“The interiority of her strikingly female style (though this was judged anonymously) hits the perfect register between cool fact, analysis, compelling narrative arc, cultural hinterland of historical detail, perception of character in a celebration of a mid-century matriarch, and personal voice. These are the merits of great non-fiction writing. The links between North Wales and Japan are kept flowing, while a keen focus is kept on Catharine in her Japanese home and milieu.
“This is no traditional account of a dusty corner of the Welsh diaspora. Catharine and her new home are metropolitan and international, as is the author’s outlook. This is a superlative exploration of national identity and the possibility (or not) of hybrid identity. I am delighted that Susan joins Eluned Gramich, our first Awards winner in 2015, in presenting the intricacy of Japan to a Welsh and UK readership.”
Image (above) © 2020 New Welsh Review